Arizona veteran cemeteries will inter members of National Guard & Reserves next year

Next year, former members of the Arizona National Guard and military reservists can be laid to rest at three cemeteries for veterans managed by the Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services, officials said.

After a change in federal and state law, former members of the Guard and Reserve can be interred beginning Jan. 1, 2024.

ADVS operates three cemeteries in Arizona: the Southern Arizona Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery in Sierra Vista, Arizona Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery in Marana, and Arizona
Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery at Camp Navajo, west of Flagstaff. 

“Honoring all of our service members and their families equally from every branch and component of the military is fundamental to our commitment to ensure there are no barriers to the benefits and services they have earned,” said Dana Allmond, the head of ADVS.

The agency said the change came as a result of the Burial Equity for Guards and Reserves Act signed by President Joe Biden last year, and the passage of a state law in July, allowing for all National Guard and Reserve members to be interred at ADVS Arizona Veterans’ Memorial Cemeteries.

“This enhanced state burial benefit bridges the gaps for Reserve and National Guard members for burial,” said Joe Larson, the administrator for the cemetery in Sierra Vista. “We are now able to provide burial services and memorialization to those who otherwise would not have qualified for this benefit under the National Cemetery Administration guidelines.”

ADVS said the change will allow for more burials at the three sites, however, they added the benefit will only cover the actual gravesite and interment. The change does not include the free burial flag, or grave marker. The three facilities will add fees to cover the costs, however, the agency said the cost is “below industry standards for burials in private cemeteries.”

“The families can rest assured that the final resting place of their loved one will be maintained in perpetuity as a national shrine,” Larson said.

Families interested in internment at Arizona Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery can apply on the agency’s website at Cemetery staff at the three sites will hold applications until January 1, and will contact families to make burial arrangements for next year.